The Work of the Daughters of the American Revolution to Commemorate the Americans who served at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse
The information in this volume was compiled entirely through many hours of volunteer work of a team of 25 women from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). The project was planned and executed as a service for the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park whose mission is to preserve the battleground and history of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse fought on March 15, 1781 near present day Greensboro, NC during the American Revolutionary War. Project team members were from Guilford Battle Chapter, Rachel Caldwell Chapter, and a member-at-large. They were not professional historians or scholars. Instead, they were diligent women, familiar with current standards of documentation, who were dedicated to building a unique memorial to the patriots who came together on that fateful day near Guilford Courthouse where (as stated in pension application of Joseph Newton R7635) “the memorable battle was fought, which will never be forgotten by me, or the American people.”
Digging through Historical Records
This volume was compiled to honor the individuals for whom there is evidence that they participated in this battle. The content was limited, for the most part, to participation in the actual battle and does not generally include those who played a supportive role or who were involved in the skirmishes and events surrounding the battle. Evidence of participation in any Revolutionary War battle is not abundant. Most of the Revolutionary War records in the custody of the War Department were destroyed by fire, November 8, 1800 and additional records were lost during the War of 1812. Those that survived include muster rolls, payrolls or supply records. Although these may serve as acceptable evidence for participation in the war, they are not relevant documentation for participation in a specific battle. The most abundant surviving evidence for participation in any battle is pension applications in which an applicant or witness mentioned or described participation in any battle is pension applications in which an applicant or witness mentioned or described participation in the battle of himself or another. (Note: for the purpose of the project, Revolutionary War Bounty Land Claims were considered to be a subset of the National Archive’s collection and reference to the set of pension applications also includes these claims.)
Methodology to Uncover the Historical Record
It was recognized that early in the project that all pension application evidence was not equal. The strength of the evidence can be represented by a continuum. On the end of the continuum, the events of the battle were described in such great detail that little doubt remained that the applicant was an eye witness. In contrast, at the other end of the spectrum, there were examples of widows who gave testimony that they “thought” their departed husbands had taken part in the battle. All examples generally found within this continuum were included in this volume.
In addition, to provide insight into the credibility and strength of the evidence for each entry, the phrase or paragraph from the pension file which relates to the battle participation was noted and has been reproduced in this volume. The result, a compilation of both the names and the words of battle participants, preserve the history of the battle in a unique way. The words and phrases which tell of the battle participation also tell of pranks, camaraderie, bravery, sacrifices, joys and horrors and provide a unique perspective into the lives of these early American patriots.
For more context of the evidence of a given patriot’s contributions, or for the purpose of historical or genealogical research, the user is encourage to refer to scans or transportations of the original pension application file.